|Hakujou na Enjinsha Black Jack
Author: Vernelley PM
A team of novice bounty hunters are called to capture Black Jack, a notorious phantom thief who seeks to gather the mystical Animulus Artefacts and obliterate any obstacle in his path. But there's more to the deadly criminal than a mere predilection for stealing and killing...Rated: Fiction M - English - Crime/Supernatural - Chapters: 25 - Words: 81,601 - Reviews: 173 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 08-26-12 - Published: 08-07-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2940737
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
17. Corrupted Flesh
Some humans believe
a divine being created this world
in seven days.
Then on the sixth day, he destroyed the world,
for on the sixth day,
he created man.
Born in Anglia to Kian Nox and Mathilda Bennett, at the age of four years I migrated with my parents to Hidzuchi as a result of their vocation in transnational trade. They had left their large inheritance in Anglia for their eventual return at the completion of their work. Progress over the years spent in Hidzuchi led to the augmentation of their wealth, which they had prepared with the intent of providing me support for my future pursuits.
As a child I was of a very reserved nature; whether in Anglia or in Hidzuchi, I would rarely interact with the members of my household. Even to my parents I would communicate little, and consequently my attachment to them was weak, barely existent. I would spend most of my time in the vast library of my family's home, accompanied by various volumes of the overflowing collection. Countless hours were spent leaning against the shelves, poring over page after page of history, mythology, astronomy and a myriad of other subjects.
Having rarely communicated with my mother and father, it was through my own literary pursuits that I discovered, at the age of seven years, my heritage—that I was not human. From a particular selection of historical tomes, I came to the awareness that the Nox family was descended directly from a king of ancient times. This king and his race of people were of a status higher than human, second only to divinity. The Astra people lived upon this earth long before the beginning of humankind, and humans were initially unaware of any difference between the Astra and their tainted selves. Unlike the Astra, humans bred like rodents, but as generations passed, human and Astra began to interbreed, until to this day, pure descendants of the Astra people scarcely remain.
It is not because of my status as a pure Astra that I despise human beings, for such prejudice is a failing of the human; my personal observations and experiences in humanity have led to this aversion.
Many other things did I learn also that were pertinent to this king. I discovered the existence of the Seven Animulus Artefacts. History stated that they were crafted as gifts to the king of the Astra people, Himmelsgeschenk. Millennia before the existence of humankind, there arose a war between the Astra and a race of demons, the Nubilus. Many were slain on both sides. The final outcome was decided by a battle between King Himmelsgeschenk and the seven most powerful demons of the Nubilus race. Victory was achieved when the king, utilising the divine gift inherited by Astra monarchy, absorbed the abilities of the demons into himself and slew the disempowered beings with their own powers.
Though the demon race was gradually sinking into extinction, the Astra people remained shaken. Himmelsgeschenk was slowly perishing from the vast quantities of energy within his body. With the knowledge that he would soon die, he requested his seven gifts to be brought before him and sealed into them both the powers of the demons and his own heavenly abilities. Days later, he was entombed with the seven artefacts.
It was around this time that humans began to mingle with the Astra. A few short years after Himmelsgeschenk's burial, his tomb was raided by human thieves, and the artefacts stolen. They were passed from filthy hands to filthy hands, generation after generation. One artefact, the Aquila Pendant, was retrieved by the Nox family and kept safe for centuries to this day. The remaining artefacts were sold and traded in underground markets by humans to humans.
My mother, Mathilda Bennett, had inherited the Aquila Pendant some years before my birth, and my vivid recollection of it hanging around her neck spans from the time I was capable of discerning objects, until I was about eight years of age. It was at this age that I began to see humans for what they truly are.
At the time my parents and I moved to Hidzuchi, there was a certain degree of animosity between Hidzuchi and Anglia as a result of various recent socioeconomic conflicts. This hostility presented no great hindrance to my parents and their associates with regard to their vocation. However, there were other repercussions.
One certain evening, my parents and their associates, from both Anglia and Hidzuchi, held a dinner party in our home. As always, I chose not to be involved and stayed in the library for much of the evening. Chatter, laughter, and the clinking of cutlery and glass could all be heard from my snug place between the bookshelves, where I lay with a lamp to read under a blanket strung between two shelves. The topics of tonight were the principles of existentialism and fatalism; I found each equally intriguing. Was it true that the universe held no meaning, and that individuals were required to take action to create meaning of their own? Or was everything simply predetermined? Would all action taken lead to a predestined end, rendering the action ultimately meaningless? I was deeply curious.
It was late in the evening when I rose from my place under my makeshift tent. The voices in the dining hall adjacent to the library were now more subdued after desserts and drinks had been served. Firmly pushing the books on the shelf aside to allow the books I held to be replaced, I could not help but notice the library was quickly growing warmer, despite no fire having been lit in the hearth. Dust began to rain from the creaking ceiling as quiet crackling noises rapidly increased in volume. I could hear the indistinct cries of surprise from the dining hall next door.
Suddenly, a vast portion of the building material that constituted the ceiling of the library crumbled. Larger fragments of the falling debris struck one of the bookshelves by which I stood, and it began to sway forward and fall. Though I tried to remove myself from harm's way, I did not have the agility requisite. My legs were caught under the heavy wooden shelves and innumerable thick books as they fell.
Vainly I struggled to free my trapped legs, but I had not the strength to even slightly shift the shelves. My legs did not feel broken or otherwise severely injured; it was only the weight of the shelves and debris that prevented movement. I abandoned the attempt and focused on my surroundings. The library was entirely ablaze but for this small section in which I lay trapped. Towering flames danced like ghostly shadows as they closed in around me, caressing me with their fingers of scorching heat. The hot air and smoke I inhaled caused a burning sensation in my lungs, and in a matter of minutes, I lost consciousness.
I knew not how long I had lain under the heap of rubble in my state of insensibility, for when I awoke I sensed neither the heat of the flames nor the presence of my parents and their guests. Thick smoke still hung about the air, and the chilling cold of night had crept through the crumbled walls and gaps in the collapsed ceiling of the house.
Low voices accompanied the shuffling movements I detected around me. A short distance away, I saw two Hidzuchian men, one of whom was armed with a rifle. They seemed to be talking to companions out of my sight, and from their terse conversation I repeatedly heard the term 'survivors'. The two men I could see began to advance in my direction, but as they continuously cast their eyes about as if searching for something, I deduced that they were unaware of my presence as yet. They continued to talk among themselves.
"You know they don't want foreigners taking over our economy. They'd be at risk of exposure, so of course they'd ask us to get rid of these Anglians. Killed a couple of our own as well, but that couldn't be helped."
"Indeed. But I hear the pay for this job will be quite generous anyway— Wait, what's that?" They suddenly stopped walking.
"I don't think the others have checked this area yet. Come, let's take a look." Their footsteps approached at an accelerated pace.
One of them met my eyes. As his presence did not feel intimidating to me, I simply stared back.
"It's a small child. Maybe Anglian, if this was the Nox house."
He grunted as he shifted the shelf away, alleviating the weight on my legs. As soon as I was able to move, I attempted to run, but my legs gave way and the man's companion seized me by the arms, pinned them to my back and coiled his arm tightly around my neck. I choked and gasped for air.
The first man, who wielded the rifle, tapped his chin thoughtfully. "They said not to leave any survivors." He pressed the barrel of his weapon to my temple.
I continued to struggle against my captor, but to no avail. Suddenly, a bright light shone onto my face, and I closed my eyes to subdue the glare. Judging from the pitch of the voices murmuring among themselves, another few men seemed to have joined these two. The light was directed away from my face. Upon opening my eyes, I saw at least four other men. They too were Hidzuchian.
"What are you two doing with this white brat?" one of the newcomers asked brusquely. He wore a black jacket with rips in its sleeves, exposing his tanned skin beneath.
"We're just deciding that now," answered my captor nonchalantly. "What do you lot suggest?"
One of the other men stroked my cheek delicately with pale, slender fingers. "It's remarkably beautiful for an Anglian. I'm sure the Kokushu would be interested."
"Why would the Kokushu need a child, much less an Anglian?"
"The chief of Kokushu has been looking for new labourers. Besides, what if this child was a witness? We could kill it, but it would be a pity to waste such beauty. I'm almost certain the chief would be quite pleased with this acquisition."
Distant wailing sounds began to grow louder as the fire brigade approached, unaware that their attendance was unneeded. The men's indistinct murmuring became frantic.
"We'll just take him with us and decide what to do later. We can't leave him here in case the authorities question him and he gives us and the Kokushu away."
The sirens screamed as they neared the smouldering remnants of the house. Nodding in compliance, my captor forced his rough hand against my mouth and conveyed me to a large black automobile with windows of dark glass. Two of the other men opened the door and entered first. A moment later, I was thrown into the interior of the vehicle, colliding with the leather seats within. No sooner had I recovered from the impact than I was seized once again and my wrists and ankles bound with thick cords. When I displayed signs of resistance, one of the men repeatedly struck me on the cheek with his rifle until he drew blood. The soreness in my legs and cheek, combined with the effects of fatigue, depleted what little energy I had left, and I fell asleep.
When I awoke I found myself in a spacious bed, covered with bedclothes of very fine cloth. I recognised the feeling of the smooth, luxurious material against my skin; most of the bedclothes in my own home were of the same fabric. Pushing myself into an upright position, I made a cursory observation of my surroundings. The walls of the room were made of stone, and dim light streamed in through the gap in the slightly ajar door. There was a small chest of drawers just adjacent to the table, and to the side of that, a wooden chair with an occupant. Noticing that I had awoken, he spoke to me in Anglian.
"Do you speak Hidzuchian?" He was not one of the men I had encountered earlier. He was an adult between twenty to thirty years of age, of a lean build. His dark hair was combed back, and he wore a dark suit with a light grey tie. A strong smell of cologne lingered about him.
"Yes," I answered in his native tongue, feeling somewhat anxious. "Where am I? Who are you?"
"As you no longer have a place to stay, this is your new home."
"This is my home now?"
He nodded. "Yes. Your parents were most… unfortunately… killed in the fire. It's a miracle that you, a child, were able to survive."
"If I recall correctly, sir, I was abducted and brought here. What is the reason for that?"
He laughed lightly. "You are a very keen child, I sense. Well, for a time I was looking for workers, but I had already found enough to fill the vacancies. I was told you were homeless and decided to take you in. Don't worry. I promise I'll take good care of you."
My mind was torn. His words sounded sincere, and indeed I needed a home, but his presence caused me discomfort.
"What am I to do in this new home?"
"I'm afraid my home is not well equipped to accommodate for the interests of a young one like you. Perhaps you enjoy reading? We have a small library."
That would suffice for a short while. "Perhaps I will venture there on some occasion."
He rose from his seat. "Very well. I must go now; I have matters to attend to. Is there anything you need now? I'm sure you would like to rest more. You'll need your energy later today."
"No, thank you. I wish to be left alone."
"As you wish." He left the room, closing the door behind him.
What was I to do now? I mourned my parents' passing; not because I had felt attached to them, but because I had always trusted in them to provide for my needs. I could not trust this stranger. But without a home, I was left with few other options.
About half an hour elapsed before I decided to arise from the bed and venture to the library. Barefoot, I walked through a long, narrow corridor with plush carpeted floors. I did not have the slightest idea as to the direction of the library, and so I simply meandered through the house in search of it. The scent of food wafted through the air, but I was not hungry and ignored it, attracted still by the mention of the library.
There was another passageway connected near the end of this corridor. I chose to turn there, but as I came around the corner, another person walked straight into me. I staggered a little before falling onto the floor. The other person was a large man with a broom in one hand and a scarf covering his mouth and nose; he had evidently been sweeping. His voice was angry now.
"What are you doing here? How did you get in this house? Get out, you little white brat! Get out!"
To my shock, he began to hit me with the broom. He struck me on the face, on the chest, on the shoulders and on the legs. Physically, I was yet unable to tolerate this extent of pain, and I wept sorely. He kicked me in the stomach, and blood from my mouth fell to the floor with my tears.
I suddenly heard another voice speak. "What are you doing? Leave that child alone."
Glancing up, I saw the man from before. His expression was one of composure as he addressed the cleaner. The household worker's countenance paled.
"Yes, sir. My apologies, Shikijou-san."
The man named Shikijou walked toward me and lifted me from the floor, securely wrapping his arm around my shoulders. "This child is very special. I would appreciate it if you and the rest of the staff would treat him well."
"Carry on," he instructed the worker, who promptly obliged and continued sweeping.
Shikijou propelled me along the corridor. "I'm sorry about that. I promise I won't let it happen again. Are you feeling all right?"
Having no desire to respond verbally, I shrugged.
We walked for a few minutes more, eventually stopping by a varnished wooden door. Shikijou turned the handle of the door and pushed it open, inviting me inside. Upon setting foot in the room, I saw a brightly lit room with several bookcases. Small vases of flowers sat atop each small wooden table, their fragrances diffusing throughout the space. I gazed around. It was a very small library, and the collection seemed far less diverse than that to which I was accustomed.
He took me by the hand and led me to the shelves on the far end of the room. This corner of the library seemed vastly darker than the rest, and the gap between the bookcase and the wall was extremely narrow. "Well then, what kind of books would you like to read today?"
Momentarily, I hesitated. "I…"
"Take a look here." He gestured to the lowest shelf. I nodded and began to browse through the volumes. As I did, I felt my back pressed against his chest. As the space was rather narrow, I initially thought nothing of it. It was only a moment later that I suddenly felt tense.
"Have you found anything you like?" he whispered, his lips brushing against my ear. His arms coiled tightly around my waist.
"Not yet," I mumbled apprehensively, debating whether or not I should attempt to wrest myself from his grasp.
One of his hands slid from my waist to my chest. "Keep looking," he murmured. Then to my horror, his tongue began to caress my ear.
My pulse began to accelerate exponentially. "Kindly do not touch me—"
Without warning, he forcefully pulled me away from the bookcase and pushed me against the wall. The collision temporarily disoriented me; all I could feel was the sensation of hot air tickling my lips and a tugging at the front of my shirt. A moment later, I was able to recollect myself, but it was but a transient, wavering relief. The older man's face was mere inches from mine; I could see every detail of his complexion, from his pores to the very slight stubble on the lower half of his face. The stench of his cologne burned my nostrils. His large hand crawled across my bare chest.
A low chuckle sounded from his throat as he stroked my exposed flesh with scorching fingers. "As informed a child as you seem, it appears you are yet lacking in knowledge vital to life. Allow me to educate you."
He pressed his body against mine; the sudden weight threatened to suffocate me. I struggled under his body, but he only laughed. His fingers wove into my hair, gripping it tightly. His free hand stroked my thigh as he licked his lips. "You are indeed a very beautiful child. I find myself curious about how you taste."
Suddenly, he forced his mouth onto mine. I felt his tongue tracing my lips and sliding into my mouth. A groan of pleasure escaped his lips, and the sound greatly sickened me. He pulled away from my mouth and began to run his tongue along my jawline as one of his hands proceeded to unfasten my belt. I opened my mouth to protest, but he aggressively bit my lower lip; I felt the blood seep from the puncture. Tears welled up in my eyes at the sudden jolt of pain. He lavishly licked blood from the wound.
"Don't make this a bad first experience for yourself," he whispered into my ear. "You'll learn to enjoy it as much as I do."
'The earth also was corrupt before God.'
'And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth.'
It is recorded in human scripture.
Even the Creator in whom some humans believe
hated his own creation.
Do you see why?
A/N: Credits to seredemia for the italics idea.
Disclaimer: This ideology is purely fictitious and is not intended to be offensive.
If you were curious about the translation of the story title, Hakujou na Enjinsha Black Jack translates to 'Cold-Hearted Misanthrope Black Jack'. I didn't mention this earlier since I figured it wouldn't make sense until this chapter anyway.
There will be a few more chapters from Jack's POV. I'm using a framed narrative style that combines a direct voice with a general narrative voice. It's inspired by the original Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley.
Anyway, any feedback you have on the chapter would be lovely. Thank you.